GPA Store: Featured Products

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Little Rock Implements Orwellian Police State: Operation Ceasefire

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
--George Orwell

by Mark Daniels
Arkansas Police Accountability Project

(Little Rock, AR) Little Rock Police Department's Operation Ceasefire:  Necessary Police Action or A Slippery Slope Spiraling Downward Toward an Orwellian Nightmare?  

As reported by local news, this year is being called one of the deadliest in Little Rock history with a total of 29 homicides so far.  To fight back, the Little Rock Police Department has implemented Operation Ceasefire to saturate neighborhoods notorious for crime.  Fox16's Melissa Schroeder recently did a ride along with SWAT officers and reported that "Little Rock SWAT officers are out in full force--seven days a week from 3-11 p.m.--working to stop crimes before it starts".

"SWAT officers are out in full force...working to stop crime before it starts"?  

Some people may say that police actions such as this are necessary to fight violent crime while others will counter that we are already on a slippery slope spiraling downward toward a truly Orwellian nightmare with increased militarization of the local police departmentsincreased reports of police brutality and the largest per capita prison population in the world.  Arkansas jails and prisons are vastly overcrowded and while the establishment politicians are willing to concede the fact that we need reform to address the problem, neither the Democrat or Republican candidate for Governor is willing to acknowledge the empirical data that proves drug policy is a major contributing factor.  Fortunately, the Libertarian Party candidate, Frank Gilbert, is not only willing to acknowledge the empirical data, he has stated that he will pardon all persons imprisoned in Arkansas for non violent drug offenses.  Mr. Gilbert also supports legalizing marijuana.

The Stated Goal  and Alternative Solutions

The stated goal of the Operation Ceasefire program is to decrease violent crime, most of which is related to the drug trade. However, the violence of the drug war is a direct result of prohibition, and the best way to stop that violence is to end prohibition; not to implement an Orwellian Police State * (see description at the end of this article).

The steady increase in violent crime over the past few decades is directly correlated with the escalation of the drug war. As we saw during the times of alcohol prohibition, when you ban any inanimate object, you create an incentive for people to get involved in the black market distribution of that object. Since there is no accountability, or means of peaceful dispute resolution within the black market, buyers and sellers are forced to resort to violence as their sole means of handling disagreements.

Eventually, this violence spills over into the everyday world and effects everyone’s lives. No one could imagine Budweiser and Miller Lite in a back alley gunfight, but less than a century ago during alcohol prohibition, distributors of the drug were involved in shootouts on a regular basis, just as drug gangs are today. Of course, all of this violence came to an immediate end when alcohol was legalized, however, it was not long before the establishment found a new crusade in the drug war, which allowed them to continue the same policy just with different substances.

There is significant evidence that legalizing or decriminalizing drugs actually does reduce violent crime. The murder rate in Denver was actually cut in half following marijuana legalization.

As reported by Glenn Greenwald in Drug Decriminalization in Portugal:  Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies, since Portugal decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin, on July 1, 2001, none of the nightmare scenarios touted by pre-enactment decriminalization opponents--from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for "drug tourists"--has occurred.  In fact, the empirical data indicates that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal.  Although drug usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly, drug-related pathologies--such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage--have decreased dramatically. Furthermore, the data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world. Read the Full White Paper Here 

A Nationwide Campaign

Little Rock's Operation Ceasefire is most likely part of a Nationwide Campaign which began in the mid-1990's in the City of Boston.  As reported by Melanie W. Rambaud in Behind the Guns: The Failure of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire Intervention to Address the Root Causes of Youth Homicide: 

Operation Ceasefire was an ineffective long-term youth violence reduction intervention because it was limited to a deterrence strategy. As a public health intervention, deterrence is ineffective to change behavior, particularly gun violence, because it does not address the root causes of behavior. Violence is multi-factorial with both individual and societal causes, it requires multi-faceted efforts. In order to effectively intervene it is important to understand that violence emerges from multiple and complex environmental, economical, and cultural factors. An effective violence reduction intervention must then be a comprehensive, community-oriented approach that focuses on the circumstances that put people at high risk of engaging in or being victimized by violence. What is essential is a long-term community mobilization strategy focused on prevention that promotes youth development in the context of their community and does not emphasize punishment as a deterrent to reduce youth gun violence. 

In sum, we are provided a false choice by the Little Rock Police Department:  tolerate increased violence from "criminals" or tolerate an increased level of police action which often leads to violence. The real choice is between an Orwellian nightmare or effective and efficient police and drug policy. What are your thoughts? Are the human and financial costs of these type of police actions justified or do you think it would be better to end the war on drugs?

For more information and to get involved, please visit Arkansas Police Accountability Project's Facebook page.

*Orwellian Police State

Eric Arthur Blair, known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic.  His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition totalitarianism, and commitment to democratic socialism.

He is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945).  

Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective Orwellianwhich describes official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.

Enter your email address to subscribe to our newsletter:

Delivered by FeedBurner
Be the Change! Share this using the tools below.
Fb Comments
Comments :

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget